Agency.com has named Kathy Leake, a veteran of the Omnicom shop for most of its 11-year history, to shore up its global business development efforts. The appointment comes in the wake of a series of account losses and executive departures in the U.S.
Leake’s principal mandates are to improve ties with corporate foster parent TBWA, standardize operations across global offices, and milk more international projects from existing U.S.-only accounts. Leake’s uniquely positioned to take on the latter task, having served for years as head of European business development in the London office.
It’s been more than a year since Omnicom Chief Executive John Wren said the holding company would align its three main standalone digital shops with larger agency groups. Organic was aligned with BBDO, Critical Mass with DDB, and Agency.com with TBWA. One source familiar with the agency’s internal workings said the arrangement hasn’t worked out terribly well to date, and that the company has struggled to differentiate itself internally from TBWA’s other interactive agency, Tequila, which is strong in print and online direct marketing.
Leake disputed that Agency.com has fallen into a little brother relationship to Tequila, saying its focus on Web development and online marketing does not substantially overlap with its sibling’s offerings. But she added one part of her job would be to educate folks at TBWA “on what we do and how it’s different from Tequila.”
Leake also said Agency.com has partnered well with several TBWA units, including The Integer Group, which does point-of-sale advertising, and Brand Architecture International, a brand ID specialist.
The company has faced other challenges in the U.S., including the recent departures of managing partners in New York and San Francisco and the loss of major accounts, including Visa and Miller, in its West coast office.
Even while it has struggled in the U.S., Agency’s business has thrived overseas, according to Leake, with new offices in Dublin, Brussels and Milan. She said Paris and Shanghai outposts are in the offing.
Leake was most recently VP of business development in North America, prior to which she led business development variously in the agency’s New York, San Francisco and London offices.
This story has been updated to reflect that Agency.com offers both Web development and online marketing services. An earlier version mentioned only Web development.
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